By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun
The shrimp were big, the sauce was hot and the checkbooks were open as Mesalands Community College notched another successful Mardi Gras Cajun Shrimp Boil.
The event, in its seventh year, is the bigger of two annual fund-raisers for the college’s foundation, which provides scholarships to students and has funded projects like the Dinosaur Museum.
“The community has been very supportive of the scholarship fund-raisers we’ve done,” MCC President Phillip Barry said, noting about $12,000 would be raised for the foundation when all expenses were covered.
One-third of the money was put into current scholarships, and the remaining money goes into an endowment fund for future scholarships.
April Barry, the foundation president, said more accurate figures would be available next week.
The funding comes from the people who attend the event, which was held at the Tucumcari Elks Lodge. For $50, participants were treated to a shrimp dinner. About 105 pounds of shrimp were cooked in six pots, along with corn and sausage, then poured onto two tables covered in butcher paper.
When participants were finished eating, the remaining food was portioned and sold in individual plastic bags.
The idea first came around to do the event from a railroad worker in Tucumcari who was a Louisiana native, said Bob McClellan Jr., who was busy cooking. The person taught McClellan how to organize such an event and the money has rolled in since then.
“It was so successful,” Barry said, “we decided to expand it to the Elks Club.”
The tickets are the main way the event raises money for the foundation, but Barry emceed two other fund-raising events after the dinner had concluded. The first was a raffle for a cruise to the Bahamas, with tickets selling for $20 each.
The second involved a trip that Vic and Andi Baum have made for the last four years. While in New Orleans, Vic Baum said the two buy what is called a “King Cake.” The cake, which retails for about $50, is a traditional party food for Mardi Gras. In one slice of the cake is a plastic doll’s head. Whoever ends up with that slice is obligated to buy the cake for the next party.
But that’s not the tradition with the boil.
“Lucky me, I’m the tradition,” Vic Baum said of the couple’s yearly purchase.
The cake auction netted $1,600 for the foundation. The cake was first purchased for $600, then given back. Another bought it for $500, on the condition that somebody would buy it again for $250.
Two people paid the $250 cost and split the cake.
Throughout the evening, there is a Mardi Gras theme. It starts with the green, gold and purple balloons and continues with the beads that cover every plate.
After the fund-raising was completed, dancing music was offered by BS Express, a DJ service operated by Benito Sanchez of Logan. Sanchez said he has worked for the event a few times, and usually purchases new music for each event.
“I’ll play the slow stuff (during dinner),” Sanchez said with a laugh. “It helps them digest, so they say.”